Now in its 8th year, the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award has been the launching pad for upcoming poets.

From slam poetry to formal rhyme, the anthology is a celebration of language and cultural diversity. Assembled by a brilliant team of judges, from a blind selection, this year’s compilation contains the best poems from 500 entries, including 10 of the 11 South African languages. 

Named after Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje (1876–1932), the award recognises the life and vision of this highly respected political and social activist. We always hope that it reveals the political and social attitudes of our time and reflects the complex, nuanced and uncomfortable truths of life in South Africa.


Professor Mongane Wally Serote is a Black Consciousness icon, poet and writer. His poems speak of the realities of apartheid and have been invaluable in provoking thought about oppression, as well as capturing the truths of the era. He is the chairman of the Jacana Literary Foundation, has founded several NGOs and sits on advisory boards with the aim to promote matters of arts, culture, indigenous knowledge and African renaissance.

Makhosazana Xaba is a writer of poetry, fiction and academic work on gender, health and development. She is the author of These Hands (2005 and 2017); Tongues of their Mothers (2008) and Running and Other Stories (2013), winner of the SALA Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award (2014). She is the editor of Like the Untouchable Wind: An anthology of poems (2016). She is also a co-editor of Queer Africa: New and collected fiction (2013) which won the 26th Lambda Literary Awards.

Rustum Kozain is a poet, reviewer, essayist and short fiction writer. He is the winner of the Nelson Mandela Poetry Prize (1989); the Philip Stein Poetry Award (1997) for a poem that appeared in New Contrast (1996); the Ingrid Jonker Prize (2006) and Olive Schreiner Prize (2007) for This Carting Life and the Thomas Pringle Poetry Award (2003).

Goodenough Mashego is a poet, activist and all-round artist based in the rural town of Bushbuckridge. A journalist/columnist, he has written for various publications across beats and also adjudicates the South African Literary Awards (SALAs). He is the co-founder of Mpumalanga’s indigenous language hip hop label, Lepulana Musik, has written four films, has co-produced and translated two documentaries for the National Peace Centre and his play, The Last Show, was awarded the Saving Endangered Species (SES) Prize in the USA in 2016.

Pieter Odendaal is the co-founder and project manager of SLiP, the Stellenbosch Literary Project, which crafts and encourages creative engagement with words through their digital platform that focuses on South African writing (books and poetry), multilingualism and translation. Together with Adriaan van Wyk, he runs the InZync poetry sessions and workshops, which are a fundamental part of Cape Town’s urban poetry scene.

The project is funded by the European Union.